first published in Ghost Town Literary Magazine
The Little Mermaid Syndrome.
An enchanting, glamorous mermaid makeup trio: two eyeshadows, Shattered (golden shifting to teal, turns eyelids into gleaming fish scales siren-calling you home as you sleep) and Knife Stabs (metallic rust, hints of blood-stains and broken decades of dreams), and a sheer lip balm, Mute, to soothe your painful articulation muscles that make you suffer in silence, sometimes having to quarantine yourself to heal. Mute smells of sea salt and children’s sandcastles. Best applied after Lovebird Lip Exfoliator. Do not take selfies while wearing the lip balm, for you will get #fishface. If eyeshadow is applied 300 days and nights in a row, scales will appear elsewhere and a mermaid tail will replace your sore sad former prized ballerina legs that have betrayed you on land. You will have no more pain, finally free, returning home to the ocean.
A powder that contains every “cure” people have suggested over 23 years: bee venom, placentas, 5HTP, oregano oil, acupuncture needles, acupuncture cuppings, Vitamin D, emu oil, baby foreskins, raw garlic, B vitamins, black cherries straight from the jar, and skin cells of every Whole Foods employee, Buddhist yogi and Tai Chi fanatic who will command you to masticate on the spot and find God. Pour powder into unfiltered coconut water and mix thoroughly. Take a sip and spit it at the next person who accosts you.
from Cholla Needles issue 15
Redemption (facial steam bath).
A warm mist relaxes your spasming facial muscles allowing painless smiles and ability to eat all foods. You close your eyes and hear the bizarre, enchanting incantations of William Blake’s Songs of Innocence and Experience. You revel in your blessed childhood and wisdom. You see the alchemy of vowels Rimbaud illuminated: Black of silence and sleep, black of dreaming perfect poems into books, black of necessary mourning; white of clouds of suspended time; red of unconditional love from friends and family mixed with the blood from shaved legs; blue of self-reflection, blue of tears cleansing your vision and sorrow; green of sea and candy. The smell of parchment and comfort overwhelm you. You were put on this earth to experience it all. You are now able to contort your mouth to pronounce all consonants in perfect formation and express every emotion you have ever felt.
from Cholla Needles issue 18
“Please Don’t Hug Too Hard” Perfume.
blood of a virgin lovebird
amalgamation of all the fragrances worn by affectionate matrons who get offended when told to be gentle
9 denim jackets of weasels
1 weasel musk
A limited edition of this parfum includes the actual pea that hurt the fairytale princess, formerly held in a museum in Odense, Denmark. This perfume will keep the hugger from embracing you too hard, but will let them know to give you the affection you ache for. You won’t ever have to groan, protest, or scream when being hugged. The fragrance makes them intuitive to your current state of pain. The hugs will always feel pleasant and warm. In addition, it wards off all creepy hugs and unsolicited shoulder rubs.
Cholla Needles issue 20
You Said You Would Visit. It’s Been Over 5 Years Contouring Kit.
Apply lightly to enhance your already natural youthful glow and radiance. Each year, apply thicker coverage; you wait for the auspicious visit until you become gaunt and withered. Too bad the heroin-chic look isn’t in style anymore. After five years, your ruby soul is crushed to bits. You look and feel defeated and almost dead. You do, however, get complimented on your jutting cheekbones. Thank you, “friend!” And thank you, contouring kit!
False Hope nail polish is the perfect classic red. It will give a superb pop to your little black dress when out at the local night club. Your keratin and calcium levels will rise through the roof as soon as the brush touches your desiccated cuticles. This phenomenon has been scientifically documented. You even checked snopes.com. Everything’s gonna be alright, everything’s gonna be alright, you belt out as your assistant paints your nails at your bedside.
Through the window, you see a male Anna’s hummingbird with a glittered crimson head, much like the pigment of this posh polish. You continue to observe him as he crashes right into the window. Bonk! You look to see if he has fallen, but there is no body on the ground. Then you find that he is proudly perched on the feeder drinking the luscious nectar. Praise Baby Jesus! The little hummer is alive and thriving. Your assistant glazes a top coat and the ritual is complete. Your nails are now the glossiest they’ve ever been and you go to sleep knowing your nails will stay healthy and the polish will last forever! That’s what everyone’s been saying. You are getting better all the tiiiime!
You awaken. The nail polish is chipping, soon cracking, smashing against the cuticle beds. Your hands feel like otherworldly terror. To distract from your pain, you look out the window and notice there are no birds at the feeder and the nectar has transformed into blood with floating human hangnails, and a hint of scarlet sparkle. You collapse into the corner of your bedroom. You begin weeping uncontrollably. Why must promises taunt you? What made you believe in hope this time? Were the fumes of the polish a placebo? Fooled again. Nothing is crueler than False Hope.